This article is about the sea god. For other uses, see Phorcys (disambiguation).
Abode Sea
Consort Ceto
Parents Pontus and Gaea
Siblings Nereus, Thaumas, Ceto and Eurybia
Children The Hesperides, The Gorgons, The Graeae, Thoosa, Scylla, Echidna, the Sirens, and Ladon

In Greek mythology, Phorcys /ˈfɔːrss/ (Greek: Φόρκυς, Phorkus) is a primordial sea god, generally cited (first in Hesiod) as the son of Pontus and Gaia. According to the Orphic hymns, Phorcys, Cronus and Rhea were the eldest offspring of Oceanus and Tethys.[1] Classical scholar Karl Kerenyi conflated Phorcys with the similar sea gods Nereus and Proteus.[2] His wife was Ceto, and he is most notable in myth for fathering by Ceto a host of monstrous children. In extant Hellenistic-Roman mosaics, Phorcys was depicted as a fish-tailed merman with crab-claw fore-legs and red-spiked skin.



Hesiod's Theogony lists the children of Phorcys and Ceto as the Graeae (naming only two: Pemphredo, and Enyo), the Gorgons (Stheno, Euryale and Medusa),[3] probably Echidna (though the text is unclear on this point)[4] and Ceto's "youngest, the awful snake who guards the apples all of gold in the secret places of the dark earth at its great bounds",[5] also called the Drakon Hesperios ("Hesperian Dragon", or dragon of the Hesperides) or Ladon. These children tend to be consistent across sources, though Ladon is often cited as a child of Echidna by Typhon and therefore Phorcys and Ceto's grandson.[6]

According to Apollodorus, Scylla was the daughter of Crataeis, with the father being either Trienus (Triton?) or Phorcus (a variant of Phorkys).[7] Apollonius of Rhodes has Scylla as the daughter of Phorcys and a conflated Crataeis-Hecate.

The Scholiast on Apollonius of Rhodes cites Phorcys and Ceto as the parents of the Hesperides, but this assertion is not repeated in other ancient sources.

Homer refers to Thoosa, the mother of Polyphemus, as a daughter of Phorcys.

Family Tree

Main article: Greek sea gods
NereusThaumasPhorcysCetoEurybiaThe TelchinesHaliaAphrodite [8]
EchidnaThe Gorgons[9]GraeaeLadonThe HesperidesThoösa


  1. Kerenyi, p. 42.
  2. Kerenyi pp. 42-43.
  3. Hesiod, Theogony, 270-276.
  4. Hesiod, Theogony, 295-297. Though Herbert Jennings Rose says simply that it is "not clear which parents are meant", Athanassakis, p. 44, says that Phorcys and Ceto are the "more likely candidates for parents of this hideous creature who proceeded to give birth to a series of monsters and scourges". The problem arises from the ambiguous referent of the pronoun "she" in line 295 of the Theogony. While some have read this "she" as referring to Callirhoe (e.g. Smith "Echidna"; Morford, p. 162), according to Clay, p. 159 n. 32, "the modern scholarly consensus" reads Ceto, see for example Gantz, p. 22; Caldwell, pp. 7, 46 295303; Grimal, "Echidna" p. 143.
  5. Hesiod, Theogony, 333335.
  6. Pherecydes of Leros, fr. 16b Fowler (Fowler, p. 286); Apollodorus, Library 2.5.11; Hyginus, Fabulae Preface, 151.
  7. Apollodorus, E7.20. Similarly the Plato scholiast, perhaps following Apollodorus, gives the mother as Crataeis and the father as Tyrrhenus or Phorcus, while Eustathius on Homer, Odyssey 12.85 gives the father as Triton. Homer, Odyssey 12.124125; Ovid, Metamorphoses 13.749, have Crataeis as mother with no father mentioned; see also Servius on Virgil Aeneid 3.420; and schol. on Plato, Republic 588c. For discussions of the parentage of Scylla, see Fowler, p. 32, Ogden, p. 134; Gantz, pp. 731732; and Frazer's note to Apollodorus, E7.20.
  8. There are two major conflicting stories for Aphrodite's origins: Hesiod (Theogony) claims that she was "born" from the foam of the sea after Cronus castrated Uranus, thus making her Uranus' daughter; but Homer (Iliad, book V) has Aphrodite as daughter of Zeus and Dione. According to Plato (Symposium 180e), the two were entirely separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos.
  9. Most sources describe Medusa as the daughter of Phorcys and Ceto, though the author Hyginus (Fabulae Preface) makes Medusa the daughter of Gorgon and Ceto.


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